Thursday, September 19, 2019

Patrick Chappatte TED Talk: "A free world need political cartoons."

We need humor like we need the air we breathe, states editorial cartoonist Patrick Chappatte.

In a July 2019 TED Talk in Edinburgh, Scotland, Chappatte makes his case about the necessity of satire, particularly cartoons.

"Political cartoons were born with democracy, and they are challenged when freedom is," he says.

Direct link to TED page here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Brian Cox Masterclass with Theo

Not cartoon-related, but a fun clip nevertheless.

Here is renowned actor Brian Cox (HBO's "Succession," "Manhunter") teaching a 30 month old baby named Theo the Hamlet soliloquy using his Shakespeare Suzuki method. Theo is already an impressive thespian.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Cartoonist Musa Kart Exonerated in Latest Battle with Erdogan


Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart was found not guilty of “insulting through publication and slander” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a cartoon published in the daily Cumhuriyet on February 1, 2014.
The offending cartoon depicts Erdogan, then prime minister, as a hologram fecklessly looming over a money-laundering operation that purportedly involved hundreds of people as well as government officials. After the government squelched any investigation into the alleged scam, Musa Kart noted that the only one going to trial over the affair was the whistle-blowing cartoonist.
The court dismissed the charges against the award-winning Musa Kart on the first day of the trial, disappointing President Erdogan’s lawyers, who were hoping to land the defiant cartoonist a 9-year prison sentence.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Bill Schelly 1951 - 2019

Comics historian and writer Bill Schelly has died. The cause was multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood cells. He was 67.

Bill was a comics fan and also a writer of books about comic book creators. He wrote a lot, shedding the light on the fans and the creative professionals in the comic book (and sometimes movie) business. A few of his books are:

  • Sense of Wonder: A Life in Comic Fandom (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2001; revised North Atlantic Books, 2018)
  • Man of Rock: A Biography of Joe Kubert (Fantagraphics, 2008)
  • Harry Langdon: His Life and Films (substantially revised and appended second edition, McFarland, 2008)
  • Founders of Comic Fandom: Profiles of 90 Publishers, Dealers, Collectors, Writers, Artists and Other Luminaries of the 1950s and 1960s (McFarland Books, 2010)
  • American Comic Book Chronicles: The 50's (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2013)
  • Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America (Fantagraphics, 2015)
  • Otto Binder: The Life and Work of a Comic Book and Science Fiction Visionary (North Atlantic Books, 2016)
  • John Stanley: Giving Life To Little Lulu (Fantagraphics, 2017)

Nick Caputo has a wonderful recap of Bill's life here. In Bill's autobiography, he recounts the moment he discovered comic books and became a fan. His high school friend in Pittsburgh, William Shields, also collected comics:

"What's This?" I asked Richard, pointing to the sheet with the Eye character. "Some kind of comic book?" "Yeah." "Where do you buy it? I've never seen this character on the racks." I wondered if there were regional comic book companies that didn't distribute their wares in Pittsburgh. "Idiot!" He said, laughing. "It's not like a regular comic book. You have to send away for it. It's probably printed like Rocket's Blast-Comiccollector." We looked through the copy of RB-CC which was duplicated by the same printing method our school teachers used for pop quizzes and worksheets. I didn't know the name of the process, but the print was purple. We were captivated by page after page of advertisements for old comic books, some dating back to the 1940s. Shields let out a long whistle. "Look at this! someone wants fifteen bucks for Captain America # 1!" "That's nuts!" I replied, shaking my head. "Who would pay that much?" "I don't know, but a lot of the other old stuff is only three or four bucks. I think I'll get some of 'em, if I can figure out which ones are the best." "That's too much for me, but here's a copy of Spider-Man # 1 for a buck-fifty. I think I'll send for that." Although the ads for much-sought-after back issues were fascinating, I was equally interested in the fanzines that promised information about comics of the past. Just the idea that you could buy a bunch of different magazines about comics fascinated me. What a momentous, mind-boggling development this was! My joy know no bounds!

This is a terrible loss and one that is sudden. I had not heard that he was battling cancer. The idea that we have lost him and the potential of more of his writing is a sad thought to contemplate. He will be missed.


Bill Schelly site

Mark Evanier

Friday, September 13, 2019

1959 Interview with Al Capp

Li'l Abner creator Al Capp is interviewed on this 1959 Smithsonian Folkways record. He talks about his creative process, satire and whether comic books are the root of juvenile delinquency. He is interviewed by Howard Langer, editor of the Scholastic Teacher Magazine. A link to the complete liner notes, which include a transcript of the entire interview is here.

Here are both parts of the interview.


Video: 1970 "This is Al Capp" TV Special
The Al Capp Murals of Worcester, MA
Al Capp's Schmoo Comic #5

Thursday, September 12, 2019

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Ton Smits Cartoons 1951 - 1967

Ton Smits' (1921 - 1981) cartoons appeared all over the place for many decades. But it wasn't always that way. Although he was from the Netherlands, he liked American cartoons in the American magazines.

After mailing many batches of cartoons for more than a year to Saturday Evening Post cartoon editor John Bailey in New York City (comprised of thirty cartoons per batch), the magazine finally published the first of his cartoons in 1949. This was just the beginning. Five years later, with American magazine sales increasing, he was offered a contract from The New Yorker.

My friend Dick Buchanan has some great samples of Ton Smits' gag cartoon work and some more about this remarkable cartoonist's life. Take it away, Dick:



Cartoons 1951 - 1967

Ton Smits was a prominent Dutch painter, cartoonist and comic artist. In 1921 he was born in Vegheland and moved to Eindhoven in 1938. His first cartoon was published in 1941 in the magazine De Humorist, signing his work "Tommy." In the Helmondse Courant he published the comics "Karel Kwiek," "Daniel Daazer" and "Dolly and the Jewelry Robbery."

Although his paintings won awards, Smits is most renowned for his simple cartoons. During World War Two, living in Eindhoven, he drew portraits lampooning Hitler, Goebbels, and Goering. These cartoons were hidden for fear of reprisals, but immediately after the war they were sold as postcards, wildly popular throughout several European countries. After the war the Dutch newspapers which had published his cartoons honored his anti-Nazi efforts.

In 1947 Smits moved to Amsterdam where he produced political cartoons. Given a copy of Look magazine by an American soldier, Smits was intrigued by the cartoons. He decided to try his luck and submitted his work to American magazines. After a year of rejection, John Bailey, humor editor of The Saturday Evening Post, became the first to recognize the universal appeal of Smits' seemingly effortless drawings. His first cartoon was published in America in 1949. During this period, Ben Roth signed Smits as a client of the Roth Agency and invited Smits to visit New York City. Smits took him up on the offer, and Bailey introduced him to America editors and fellow cartoonists. Roth hosted Smits on several occasions during the early 1950’s, helping to cement Smits’ status as cartoonist of international renown. His first New Yorker drawing was published November 13, 1954 and he continued to be a contributor until 1980.

A celebrated cartoonist and painter, Smits won numerous prizes. In 1964 he received the Palma d'Oro, at the Salon of Humor in the Italian Bordighera which, at the time, was the highest award for artistic expression of humor in the world. He also designed the well-known "vignette" for International Cartoonale, a yearly cartoon and art gallery staged in Knokke-Heist, Belgium. The Dutch Cartoonist Society awarded Smits their annual award. Today there is an annual cartoon prize named for him, the Ton Smits coin.

To top it off, in Eindhoven, there is a small museum called the Ton Smits Huis. It’s his former home and workplace. When Smits decided he needed a personal home studio, he commissioned architect Fons Vermeulen to design the building. Like Smits’ cartoons, the home is modern and unusual. Visitors can view some of the 20,000 cartoons and paintings Smits created over a lifetime of work.

From 1949 until 1980, Smits’ cartoons appeared in many of America’s foremost magazines including Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Look, This Week Magazine, 1000 Jokes Magazine and Playboy.

Smits was a master in observing the human psyche which he expressed in subtle, gentle drawings. Although he never fulfilled his dream of being a circus clown, Ton Smits' drawings achieved the same goal. He made people smile.

Here is a small sample of his delightful work . . .

1. TON SMITS. The Saturday Evening Post January 27, 1951.

2. TON SMITS. This Week Magazine July 13, 1952.

3. TON SMITS. The Saturday Evening Post January 24, 1953.

4. TON SMITS. This Week Magazine April 5, 1953.

5. TON SMITS. This Week Magazine December 19, 1954.

6. TON SMITS. Look Magazine April 16, 1957.

7. TON SMITS. Look Magazine September 16, 1958.

8. TON SMITS. Look Magazine June 9, 1959.

9. TON SMITS. Look Magazine May 12, 1959.

10. TON SMITS. The Saturday Evening Post April 18, 1959.

11. TON SMITS. The Saturday Evening Post July 18, 1959.

12. TON SMITS. For Laughing Out Loud October-December, 1960.

13. TON SMITS. Look Magazine January 31, 1961.

14. TON SMITS. 1000 Jokes Magazine September-November, 1962.

15. TON SMITS. Look Magazine July 17, 1962.

16. TON SMITS. The Saturday Evening Post November 17, 1962.

17. TON SMITS. Look Magazine December 3, 1963.

18. TON SMITS. 1000 Jokes Magazine March-May, 1964.

19. TON SMITS. 1000 Jokes Magazine December, 1963-February, 1964.

 20. TON SMITS. Boys’ Life March, 1967.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Jimmy Hatlo "They'll Do It Every Time" Mutoscope Cards

Above image from The Eclectic Edwardian.

The Mutoscope was an early movie viewer, created in the late 19th century. They were in pavilions, arcades, and even men's rooms. The machine had a crank on the side of it and, dropping your coin in, you could turn the handle and watch a short movie.

Some of them were a bit risque.

They were also called "peep shows," and the way it worked was by

" ... quickly flipping though a book of still images on stiff card stock. One person at a time could use the machine, which was marketed by the American Mutoscope Company starting in 1895. A subsequent firm, International Mutoscope Reel Company, made all manner of penny-arcade machines in the 1930s and '40s, including ones that dispensed 5.25-by-3.25-inch cheesecake cards of young women in various states of undress. There are almost 300 different types of these cards—those in the Yankee Doodle Girls series are considered rare."

-- Collectors' Weekly

The Mutoscope people also printed collectable cards, depicting, for the most part, young women. There were also some other topics, like; Jimmy Hatlo's "They'll Do It Every Time."

Here are two dozen of the cards. All copyright Louis F. Dow, Inc. and copyright King Features as well. Most have a 1940s copyright date on them. The backside is completely blank. And the art appears to have been squeezed as best as possible onto this stock. Sometimes half of a line of print is knocked out, or a portion of the next card can be seen by the cut line. These were cheaply produced.  But the colors hold up well and they are still lots of fun to linger over. My guess is that Hatlo's longtime ghost Bob Dunn is the man behind the pen strokes here.

-- Edited from an original 7/25/17 blog entry.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

From the Dick Buchanan Files: The Cartooning Roth Brothers

It's hard enough for one person in the family to make it as a cartoonist. The Roths had four. All four Roth brothers became successful gag cartoonists. Here is my friend Dick Buchanan with their story and some great samples of their cartoons. Thanks and take it away, Dick!




It all started in 1934 when Ben Roth sold his first cartoon to Colliers Magazine. He returned home and told his brothers that he had found a way for them all to make a living. He was right. They became known as the “Cartooning Roth Brothers,” cartooning’s answer to the Marx Brothers—Irving was the one with the mustache. The only brother who did not change his name professionally was Ben Roth. Abraham signed his work Al Ross. The other two were known as Irving Roir and Salo.

The Roth family came from the village of Seletyn, Romania, and lived in Vienna. The family settled in East Harlem in the USA in 1922. All four brothers studied at the prestigious Art Students League. They began their careers at the top with sales to Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post and continued for decades with their cartoons appearing in virtually all the leading magazines of the mid-20th century, Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Liberty and Esquire. They also filled the pages of the many minor publications which featured jokes, cartoons and, sometimes, pinup girls—magazines such as 1000 Jokes Magazine, Cartoon Humor and the legendary Humorama publications.

The Roth brothers were a prolific, talented bunch with a keen gag sense. Many of their cartoons were of the “Battle of the Sexes” variety--everyday husbands in business suits and wives in aprons were frequent subjects, as were sports and cops and robbers. It was not unusual to find two or three of the brothers' cartoons in a single issue of The Saturday Evening Post or Collier’s.

Here’s a small sample from the many thousands of gag cartoons created by the talented Roth Brothers.


SELF PORTRAIT from Best Cartoons of the Year 1947.

Ben was the eldest Roth brother. Not long after he sold his first cartoon to Collier’s his cartoons began appearing in many of the era’s leading magazines—Life, The Saturday Evening Post, Liberty Magazine and College Humor to mention but a few. During World War II he served in the Office of War Information in Australia. After completing his Army tour, Roth resumed his gag cartooning career. In 1945 he created the Ben Roth Agency, which syndicated American cartoons in foreign countries.

1. BEN ROTH. Collier’s April 15, 1944.

2.  BEN ROTH.  Collier's April 15, 1944.

3. BEN ROTH. Liberty Magazine, June 1946.

4. BEN ROTH. Liberty Magazine March, 1949.

5. BEN ROTH. American Legion Magazine August, 1953.


SELF PORTRAIT from Best Cartoons of the Year 1945.

Al Ross was born Abraham Roth. Ross was always considered to be the most talented draftsman of the bunch. His cartoons appeared in a great many magazines, including Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, Cosmopolitan and Maclean's.

Ross sold three cartoons to The New Yorker between 1937 and 1940 before disappearing from its pages until 1959, when he emerged to become one of their most revered cartoonists. He kept contributing to The New Yorker, although intermittently, until 2002 when already in his nineties.

Over time, Ross began to adopt a looser and more minimalist style which finally evolved into a pure extemporaneous line. He eventually drew directly in ink with no preliminary sketching in pencil.

1. AL ROSS. The Saturday Evening Post June 5, 1943.

2. AL ROSS. Cartoon Humor Fall, 1949.

3. AL ROSS. Gags October 1, 1951.

4. AL ROSS. American Legion Magazine March, 1954.

5. AL ROSS. 1000 Jokes Magazine April-June, 1963.


SELF PORTRAIT from Best Cartoons of the Year 1943.

Irving (Irv Roir) Roth had the most illegible signature of the four brothers. Besides contributing gag cartoons to the era’s leading magazines, he was the brother whose work most often appeared in color. He was a cover artist for several magazines such as Judge and Gags. He was a regular contributor to Esquire. He also contributor of gag cartoons and illustrations to Pictorial Revue. From 1954 to 1956 he drew a gag panel titled Of All Things, syndicated by the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate.

1. IRV ROIR. The Saturday Evening Post February 7, 1942.

2. IRV ROIR. Liberty July 13, 1946.

3. IRV ROIR. Collier’s February 26, 1949

4. IRV ROIR. Esquire July, 1952.

5. IRV ROIR. True Magazine October, 1958.


SELF PORTRAIT from Best Cartoons of the Year 1945.

The youngest Roth brother was Salo. He sold his first cartoon, to the Saturday Evening Post, in 1937. Beginning in 1946, Mr. Roth drew for the Chicago Tribune. His gag panel, “Laughing Matter” appeared for thirty years on the editorial page, though it had nothing to do with politics or opinion—it was simply funny. In 1976, Mr. Roth retired from the Tribune and moved to Boca Raton, Florida. There he continued to draw and sell cartoons to many publications.

1. SALO ROTH. Collier’s April 26, 1941.

2. SALO ROTH. American Legion Magazine March, 1944.

3. SALO ROTH. The Saturday Evening Post December 7, 1946

4. SALO ROTH. Liberty Magazine June, 1949.

5. SALO ROTH. Collier’s May 30, 1953.